Thanks to Ben Jones for alerting me to David Crystal’s recent talk. Like you, I have many of his books on my shelf and find his insights into language, especially the English language, sage.
My brief, to present at a Year 11 conference about online tools, has accentuated, in my mind, how far away we are from providing the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) at school students need in a networked society.
Your input, via comments at a previous blog post, twitter and yammer proved invaluable but also challenging, when one considers the realities for kids in our schools. Year 11 will have virtually no opportunity, in their day at school, to use a computer or the many tools available online. During this presentation, I acknowledged that the student delegates will just have to use all this stuff at home.
One kid pointed out, that even if they had DERNSW laptops, software could not be installed and many of the sites, especially social media and collaboration tools, would be blocked anyway.
I was surprised at how little they knew of the tools discussed. The students were unfamiliar with all the tools, except iGoogle.
The big question in my mind: will opportunities for innovative pedagogies and practice emerge from the Australian Curriculum?
This is the first presentation using Prezi I have ever completed; although I have started a few in the past 12 months before the pressure of being prepared for whatever conference led me to not finish (and use my blog or PowerPoint).
Prezi has turned out to be a fun tool - once you ‘get’ the concept - and I highly recommend it.
Critical comments – on form, style and content - (on this draft) are welcome. Be gentle though, this is my first time and I know my next prezi will be much sleeker. Prezi will not embed to WordPress.com blogs and the work around is to use Vodpod which looks a little dodgy. You might want to see it at the direct link hosted at Prezi.
Anyways, I suggest you click autoplay if you try the below version but it is a bit lame without the narration or music:
However, the process of drafting the presentation, for our Year 11 conference, has led to much reflection about the pedagogy possible in institutions and the need for reformation of our systems; especially assessment and reporting which drives education in our country.
You can read those reflections here.
Next week I facilitate a workshop designed to assist Year 11 students find some useful online tools to support their learning, especially research, collaboration, organisation, study and presentation.
There will be a very, very brief presentation and overview of each tool and then students will be free to experiment, exploring the tools of use/interest to them.
Do you mind checking out this list and suggesting some more tools?
Also, are any of the below best avoided by Year 11?
Here’s the list
Tame the web
Instapaper: a read later bookmarking service
Readability: remove the clutter around the webpage you’re reading
bit.ly: shorten your links
Sharing & Collaboration
Diigo: another social bookmarking tool
Google Docs: collaborate on documents with peers online at home
Creative Commons for Images and Sound
Creative Commons (Australia): understand licenses
Flickr: the largest photo sharing site
Flickr ‘The Commons’: search the great public photographic collections
Soundzabound: royalty free music for schools
mindmeister: free mindmapping tool
bubbl.us: organise brainstorms
Evernote: synch files with all your devices
Dropbox: free online storage
Netvibes: dashboard everything
iGoogle: customise your homepage with a variety of widgets
Wetpaint: free site where you create websites that mix all the best features of wikis, blogs, forums and social networks
Wordle: generate word clouds
GAPMINDER: unveils the beauty of statistics while revealing trends
Newsmap.jp - a mashup of headlines that shows new patterns
Research & Answers
Google Alerts: keep up to date with topics of interest
Wolfram Alpha: enter what you want to calculate
Project Gutenburg (Australia): free ebooks
bibme: a free automatic bibliography generator
Noodletools: guides you through the research process
BRAINFLIPS: online flashcards
Prezi: astonishing presentations
“Diane Ravitch is the rarest of scholars—one who reports her findings and conclusions, even when they go against conventional wisdom and even when they counter her earlier, publicly espoused positions.” Howard Gardner
The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education is Diane Ravitch‘s new tome. It is clear, now that I have read it, why reviewers are saying”…this is a very important book”.
‘The Death and Life…” is a well-written, very readable and well-researched. The multiple perspectives Ravitch brings to the debate about school reform makes the book particularly valuable. Diane Ravitch is an academic and education historian with long experience but is best-known for her advocacy of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policies as his Assistant Secretary of Education. Her book explores educational reform that she originally supported but now feels was terribly misguided.
Ravitch knows schools need to be improved.
A wave of reforms, in the US, over the last century has not been satisfactory and she says, “the policies we are following today are unlikely to improve our schools…(and are) likely to make the schools less effective”. Ravitch’s book looks at the most recent waves of reforms that she supported but now knows were errors of judgement. Particularly important is her analysis of how data in New York City was misinterpreted in District 2.
This model was adopted by other states and educational precincts based on the flawed belief that the new approach was working miracles (always a good reason for skepticism). You can still read about the ‘success’ of the approach taken by Anthony Alvarado, here and also an interview discussing that ‘progress’. His approach caused much bitterness. In San Diego (chapter 4) 1998-2005, where the Alvarado model was adopted even more forcefully, with a ’90% turnover rate of principalships’ (p.61) and dismissal of ‘fifteen administrators’ during Alan Bersin’s tenure. There appears to have been no discernible improvement, in fact, there’s evidence to suggest a decline in educational oucomes. With such ‘angry and disaffected…troops’, Ravitch is not surprised. “Trust not cercion is a neccessary precondition for school reform” being her sage point. (p. 66)
Ravitch, in her chapter, ‘The Trouble with Accountability”, says that, ‘tests are necessary and helpful” but when “we define what matters in education only by what is measured, we are in serious trouble”. (p.166)
Ravitch believes that the ‘fundamentals of are to be found in the classroom, the home, the community and the culture, but reformers in our time look for shortcuts and quick answers”. (p.225)
Australian educators, systems leaders and politicians who do not read Ravitch’s book are being irresponsible, considering the implications of some of the current Federal government’s education policy for our children and communities. I implore all interested in education to read this important research and analysis.
Please consider reading this important analysis of educational reform and the impact on children and communities.
UPDATE: Diane Ravitch is on twitter.
Phil’s paper is lengthy and it is not my purpose here to cast a cold eye over it but to take one issue of interest and seek your input, dear readers.
Phil has the following tables outlining some ’false dichotomies in education’ that are of particular interest to those, enthralled with ’21st century learning’, who want to keep the best of what are considered traditional practices.
Figure 1 – old versus new models of schooling and Learning
|Old Model||New Model|
|Reform existing schools||Create new schools|
|Larger schools||Smaller schools|
|Delivering education||Students learning|
|Read books, listen to talk||Explore the Web|
|Time-bound/place-bound||Any time/any place|
|Technology as textbook||Technology as research|
|Time is fixed||Time is variable|
|Cover material||Understand key ideas|
|Who and what||Why and how|
|Know things||Apply knowledge|
|Over-reliance on multiple – choice tests||Written/Oral demonstrations|
|Testing for accountability||Testing for understanding|
|“Make ‘em”||“Motivate ‘em”|
|Teachers serve administrators||Administrators serve teachers|
|Administrative management||Professional partnership|
|Adult interests dominate||Student interests dominate|
The second example, developed by Shaw (2009), presents windows into a supposed classroom of last century and that of a preferred C21 classroom.
Figure 2 – 20th Century Classroom versus 21st Century Classroom
|The 20th Century Classroom||The 21st Century Classroom|
|1960s typical classroom – teacher-centred, fragmented curriculum, students working in isolation, memorising facts.||An architectural firm establishes an alternative school providing internships for high school students.|
|Focus: memorisation of discrete facts||Focus: what students know, can do and are like after all the details are forgotten.|
|Lessons focus on the lower level of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension and application.||Learning is designed on upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – synthesis, analysis and evaluation.|
|Passive learning||Active learning|
|Learners work in isolation – classroom within 4 walls||Learners work collaboratively with classmates and others around the world – the Global Classroom|
|Teacher-centred: teacher is centre of attention and provider of information||Student-centred: teacher is facilitator/coach|
|Little to no student freedom||Great deal of student freedom|
|Discipline problems – educators do not trust students and vice versa. No student motivation.||No “discipline problems” – students and teachers have mutually respectful relationships as co-learners; students are highly motivated.|
|Fragmented curriculum||Integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum|
|Grades averaged||Grades based on what was learned|
|Low expectations||High expectations – “If it isn’t good it isn’t done.” We expect and ensure that all students succeed in learning at high-levels. Some may go higher – we get out of their way to let them do that.|
|Teacher is judge. No one else sees student work.||Self, peer and other assessments. Public audience, authentic assessments.|
|Curriculum/school is irrelevant and meaningless to the students.||Curriculum is connected to students’ interests, experience, talents and the real world.|
|Print is the primary vehicle of learning and assessment.||Performances, projects and multiple forms of media are used for learning and assessment.|
|Diversity in students is ignored.||Curriculum and instruction, address student diversity.|
|Literacy is the 3 Rs – reading, writing and maths.||Multiple literacies of the 21st century – aligned to living and working in a globalised new millennium.|
|Factory model, based upon the needs of employers for the Industrial Age of the 19th century. Scientific management.|
|Driven by standardised testing.|
“What we see here are two separate models suggesting that what happens in all schools and classrooms is one approach that is stuck in the past and must become the other (preferred approach) today. There is no room for a model that incorporates new approaches along with some proven practices. Instead we are presented with what is considered “in” (the “new model”) and what is now “out” (the “old model”).”
Q: Do exponents of the ‘new model’ completely have to reject the current paradigm to evolve?
Q: How is this binary to be resolved positively and our schools evolve?
*Phil’s speech opened with a quote from Niels Bohr, prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future which amusingly sums up the challenges of crystal-ball gazing.
I like the point Tim’s emphasises, that when, “you develop…deep connections with the people you serve, the ideas that you give them are more likely to spread. We are naturally empathic.”
Relationships with students and colleagues are important for a range of very human reasons. Increasingly neuroscience is revealing, what we already know, that we are softwired to belong.
‘Empathy is the invisible hand’ which allows us to civilise and develop.
When we observe someone else have a feeling, it spreads. We empathise. We imitate what we experience. This can be a positive or negative thing.
Listen closely to the last-minute of this video. The message, we need to rethink the human narrative and how that has led to the evolution of our institutions and ideas on parenting, education and potential.
We need to think as an extended family.
Your thoughts? How could our students and colleagues benefit from this thinking?
Sir Ken Robinson’s books and talks, quite simply, inspire!
His sense of humour and rejection of neo-factory models of education are a beacon of light for those who wish to reform the educational hand children are dealt. His passion for moving towards a ‘personalised curriculum’ is the most important educational idea of our, or any other, time.
These brief and quotable quotes, Why Teaching is Not Like Making Motorcars, give the uninitiated an idea where Sir Ken is coming from and I am sure, if you have not watched his 2006 TED video, you will soon be a convert to his ideas. You may have seen Sir Ken on the 7.30 Report last year.
His latest TED Talk, ‘Bring on the Learning Revolution’ is, as usual, amusing. I particularly enjoyed Sir Ken’s anecdote about ‘the single function device’ and his quote from Lincoln:
“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
‘Disenthrall’. I like that. Listen for his ideas on disenthralling ourselves from ‘linearity’.
Here’s the talk:
BTW I broke my wristwatch playing handball in Year 8 and haven’t had once since…